Iraqi's Opinion Poll

Features & Analysis

 Iraqis Have Mixed Views Of Their Country After U.S. Withdrawal
12/01/2012 16:13

By Joel Wing*

In November 2011, the Zogby Research Services released a new public opinion poll that in part, focused upon Iraqis’ views of their country before and after the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011. It found that people held very mixed feelings about what would happen after the American troops left. Most already believed that their country was not going in the right direction, and were worried about how the pulling out of American forces would affect that situation. At the same time, they expressed some optimism about their future.

Zogby’s survey tried to cover each region and group within the country. It questioned 1,000 people in September 2011, in ten of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, covering Baghdad, Babil, and Anbar in the center, Sulaymaniya, Irbil, Ninewa and Diyala in the north, and Basra, Dhi Qar, and Najaf in the south. 85% were Arabs, 14% were Kurdish, while 61% were Shiite, 38% were Sunni, and 1% were Christian. The point of the poll was determine people’s thoughts on the Iraq war, and the future of the country.

Most respondents did not feel good about how Iraq was doing at present. When asked were they satisfied with the pace of change in the government 55% said no, with only 39% saying yes. 56% thought that Iraq was going in the wrong direction, compared to 31% who thought that it was going on the right track. That placed more than 50% of those questioned feeling uneasy about the state of their country. That was probably the result of the on-going disputes between the ruling parties, namely Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law and Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement. Both have been bickering with each other since the March 2010 parliamentary elections, and that has held up any major legislation being passed or improvements in services.

Are you satisfied/not satisfied with pace of change in government?

Satisfied

39%

Not satisfied

53%

Is Iraq on the right or wrong track?

Right track

31%

Wrong track

56%

Iraqis were then asked about the affects of the U.S. invasion with only the Kurds feeling positive about it. Overall, only 30% of those questioned believed that Iraq was better off at present than before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 42% thought it was worse, 23% thought that Iraq was the same, and 6% were not sure. Shiites at 46% and Sunnis at 55% fueled the negative feelings about the invasion. Only the Kurds, at 60% believed that getting rid of the old regime had made their situation better. At the same time, roughly a quarter, 24% of both Shiites and Sunnis, along with 14% of Kurds said that things were relatively the same. The violence, civil war, occupation, and deterioration of services, were likely behind the bad views of the impact of the 2003 invasion.

Are Iraqis better or worse off today compared to before 2003 invasion?


Overall

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Better

30%

29%

15%

60%

Worse

42%

46%

55%

4%

Same

23%

24%

24%

14%

Not

Sure

6%

1%

7%

22%

Few felt that the 2007 U.S. Surge changed Iraq either. 43% of Iraqis said that things were the same in the country, 34% said things were better, and 16% answered that it was worse. Again, Shiites, 44%, and Sunnis, 48%, largely shared the same view. The  Kurds were the opposite with 50% saying things were better, only 3% said Iraq was worse, and 25% answered that the Surge had not changed the country. In the United States, the Surge is widely hailed as saving Iraq from its civil war, but that opinion is obviously not shared with the majority of Iraqis in this poll.

Is Iraq better or worse off today compared to before the Surge?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Better

34%

38%

15%

50%

Worse

16%

13%

30%

3%

Same

43%

44%

48%

25%

Of nine major topics in Iraqi society, not one of them were considered better off since the 2003 invasion. On political freedom, 33% thought it was better, 48% worse, and 16% said unchanged. Again, Shiites, 30%, and Sunnis, 29% were congruent in their negative feelings, while the Kurds held the opposite with 53% saying things were better. When asked about the economy, 17% responded positively, 66% negatively, and 13% said that it was unchanged. Only 14% of Shiites and 4% of Sunnis, compared to 52% of Kurds thought that development had improved since 2003. With education, a plurality of 47% thought it was worse off, 25% thought it was better, and 20% said the invasion had no affect. Health care had more evenly distributed views with 20% thinking it was better, 28% worse, and 28% unchanged. Security and government by far had the lowest responses with only 18% and 16% respectively saying that it was better. 54% thought Iraq’s relations with its neighbors had deteriorated since 2003, while Iraqis were split on women’s rights, 26% positive, 37% negative, and religious freedom, 39% positive, 36% negative. As usual, in almost every category the Kurds thought that 2003 opened up new opportunities for them. 52% thought the economy was better, 71% said education was improved, and 90% answered that security was positive. The only question that had divergence from that pattern was on religious freedom where 47% of Shiites answered positively. Obviously, with the Kurds officially gaining their own region, which has its own security forces, schools, regional government, etc. they are feeling better about their situation compared to under Saddam when they were under constant threat. The Sunnis, having lost power with Saddam and the civil war of 2005-2008 are understandably bitter about their current situation, while the Shiites also share the negative affects of the war, except on religion where they are finally able to openly practice their ceremonies and observances, most of which were banned under the former regime.

Since the U.S. invasion how has political freedom been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

33%

30%

29%

53%

Negative

48%

53%

54%

12%

None

16%

15%

14%

20%

Since the U.S. invasion how has economic development been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

17%

14%

4%

52%

Negative

66%

74%

80%

7%

None

13%

10%

10%

30%

Since the U.S. invasion how has education been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

25%

20%

12%

71%

Negative

47%

53%

58%

1%

None

20%

23%

23%

16%

Since the U.S. invasion how has health care been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

20%

18%

9%

46%

Negative

28%

49%

63%

23%

None

28%

29%

25%

25%

Since the U.S. invasion how has security been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

18%

7%

1%

90%

Negative

72%

81%

88%

6%

None

8%

10%

9%

2%

Since the U.S. invasion how has the government been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

16%

14%

3%

48%

Negative

59%

64%

69%

22%

None

17%

18%

18%

22%

Since the U.S. invasion how have relations with neighboring countries been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

21%

12%

4%

87%

Negative

54%

55%

77%

5%

None

19%

25%

14%

5%

Since the U.S. invasion how have women’s rights been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

26%

28%

9%

48%

Negative

37%

41%

42%

17%

None

26%

25%

34%

10%

Since the U.S. invasion how has religious freedom been changed?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

39%

47%

24%

36%

Negative

36%

35%

47%

20%

None

14%

12%

17%

16%

The next question was on who benefited the most from the Iraq War. People could pick two answers, and were very observant when they did so. Iran, 54%, the United States, 48%, and Iraqi elites, 40%, got the highest responses. Only 4% believed the Iraqi people gained from the war. Iran got rid of its arch rival in Saddam Hussein, the United States felt that a constant threat to the Middle East was removed, and Iraq’s new leaders all came to power because of the American invasion, and are now enriching themselves as a result. It should come as no surprise then, that Iraqis believed those three were the winners.

Who benefited the most from the Iraq war?

(Could pick two answers)

Iran

54%

U.S.

48%

Iraqi elites

40%

Al Qaeda

27%

Israel

18%

Turkey

6%

Saudis

4%

Iraqi

People

4%

Iraqis were next asked about the U.S. withdrawal, and had mixed feelings. 60% said that the Americans pulling out of the country was good, 30% said it was negative, and 10% were unsure. 68% of Shiites had a positive response, with a plurality of Sunnis, 48%, and Kurds, 45%, having the same view. When asked what emotion they had about the event, 22% said they were happy, 35% were worried, and 30% were both. The most worried were Sunnis at 45%, and the most happy were the Shiites at 26%. This showed the divergent opinions Iraqis had about the December 2011 withdrawal date. A majority wanted the U.S. to leave, but were apprehensive about what would happen next.

Is the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq good or bad?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Positive

60%

68%

48%

45%

Negative

30%

24%

39%

35%

Not sure

10%

7%

11%

20%

What emotion do you feel about the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Happiness

22%

26%

14%

20%

Worry

35%

29%

45%

37%

Both

30%

32%

31%

20%

People’s concerns about a post-U.S. Iraq were elaborated upon when asked about specific issues. 65% were concerned about a civil war, 60% were worried that the country would split apart, 58% worried about terrorism, 57% thought that the economy could fall apart, 47% thought they might lose religious freedom, and 60% responded that another country could dominate Iraq. It seemed like all respondents were afraid that Iraq would suffer on a number of important fronts once the Americans left. The current political paralysis within the government, and the mass casualty attacks that Al Qaeda in Iraq were able to pull off in December and January must be fueling these apprehensions.

How concerned are you about the following issues once the U.S. withdraws from Iraq?


Concerned

Not Concerned

Civil War

65%

20%

Iraq Will Split

60%

21%

Terrorism

58%

19%

Economic Deterioration

57%

19%

Lose Religious Freedom

47%

24%

Domination by another country

60%

30%

Because of Iraqis’ worries, they were open to the United States sending troops back into the country, should it deteriorate. If Baghdad asked for the Americans to return, 10% said they should be allowed to stay for 1 year, 47% said they should take as long as needed, while only 29% refused to consider any kind of extension being offered to Washington. An earlier poll from 2010 found similar results. These feelings were not mirrored by Iraq’s political parties, with only the Kurdish Coalition willing to openly call for the U.S. to stay in Iraq.

Should the U.S. forces stay one more year, as long as possible or leave as soon as possible if Iraqi government asked?

Iraq

Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

1 year

10%

9%

9%

19%

As long as needed

47%

42%

56%

51%

Leave ASAP

29%

34%

24%

20%

Iraqis did not have that many favorable views of their neighbors or the United States. 67% had unfavorable views of the United States, followed by 66% with that opinion of Iran, and 48% not looking good at Saudi Arabia and Turkey. A slight plurality, 46% had a good view of China, and only the United Arab Emirates had a positive view at 65%. When asked which countries would have a positive or negative affect upon Iraq after the U.S. left, the opinions were more mixed. Jordan had the most positive results at 44%, followed by Turkey, 38%, Saudi Arabia, 37%, and Qatar 36%. Syria, 28%, Iran, 20%, and Kuwait, 16%, were at the bottom. For Shiites, Turkey had the best response at 44% thinking it would have a positive affect. For Sunnis, 59%, and Kurds, 82%, it was Saudi Arabia. Despite fears that Iraq will be dominated by Iran after the U.S. withdrawal, because both are Shiite countries, 51% of Shiite respondents felt that Tehran would be a negative influence on Iraq. That was only topped by Kuwait for Shiites at 55%, an opinion shared by Sunnis at 68% since Baghdad still has to pay reparations to that country for the 1990 invasion.

Attitude towards following countries? Favorable/Unfavorable


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

U.S.

26%/67%

25%/68%

7%/88%

63%/37%

Saudis

39%/48%

30%/62%

59%/26%

49%/51%

Iran

26%/66%

41%/52%

2%/90%

5%/83%

Turkey

43%/48%

53%/40%

40%/47%

5%/81%

UAE

65%/29%

58%/36%

67%/25%

88%/8%

China

46%/43%

45%/46%

36%/43%

71%/25%

After the U.S. leaves will these countries play positive/negative role in Iraq? Positive/Negative/None


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Jordan

44%/17%/27%

36%/24%/31%

54%/8%/23%

58%/4%/15%

Turkey

38%/31%/22%

44%/27%/21%

42%/17%/28%

5%/73%/13%

Saudi Arabia

37%/29%/23%

16%/44%/30%

59%/8%/17%

82%/7%/9%

Qatar

36%/14%/39%

22%/20%/47%

49%/6%/33%

72%/5%/14%

Syria

28%/25%/30%

22%/34%/31%

40%/12%/28%

33%/8%/32%

Iran

20%/67%/8%

33%/51%/10%

1%/87%/6%

4%/92%/2%

Kuwait

16%/54%/21%

22%/55%/19%

3%/68%/22%

14%/30%/26%

When asked about what influence the U.S. would have in Iraq in the future, interference got the highest response. 33% of Iraqis, made up of 31% of Shiites, 51% of Sunnis, and 20% of Kurds answered that way. After that views were really split with 15% thinking that the U.S. would have a special relationship with Iraq, 14% feeling that Washington would help with security, 13% said the two would have a normal relationship, 12% said the U.S. would invest, and 11% said no role.

What role will the U.S. play in Iraq in the future?


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Investor

12%

13%

5%

18%

Security

14%

13%

9%

27%

Special alliance

15%

17%

11%

14%

Interference

33%

31%

51%

20%

Normal relationship

13%

16%

11%

5%

No role

11%

10%

12%

15%

The divided opinions of Iraqis was again shown when they were asked about how they felt about the future of Iraq. 55% said they were very to somewhat optimistic, compared to 31% who said they were somewhat to very pessimistic. This seemed to completely contradict the earlier responses when 56% said they thought Iraq was on the wrong track, and 57%-60% were worried about the economy collapsing, terrorism, civil war, the country splitting apart, etc. Perhaps they felt that there would be immediate problems facing the country after the U.S. withdrawal, but in the long-term they wanted their country to do better.

Iraqis’ feelings about stability and progress in the future of the country


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Very optimistic

9%

10%

2%

20%

Somewhat optimistic

46%

59%

27%

32%

Somewhat pessimistic

23%

17%

34%

22%

Very pessimistic

8%

3%

18%

9%

The economy, terrorism, and corruption were considered the most important issues facing Iraq currently. Iraqis were given eleven possible responses, and asked to rank them in order of importance. Creating jobs came out on top, followed by fighting terrorism, ending corruption, improving education, reforming the government, protecting personal freedoms, improving health care, advancing democracy, increasing women’s rights, a lack of debate about important issues, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came last. In previous opinion polls, Iraqis showed that they consider the economy the leading issue facing the country, with security second. That contradicts the impression the international press might portray about Iraq with the constant emphasis upon the latest bombing. Corruption is also a pressing matter as Iraqis have to pay bribes for nearly any service from the government, and officials are routinely accused of stealing public funds.

Most important issues to Iraqis in order

1

Expanding jobs opportunities

2

Fighting terrorism

3

Ending corruption/nepotism

4

Improving education

5

Reforming government

6

Protecting personal rights

7

Improving health care

8

Advancing democracy

9

Increasing women’s rights

10

Lack of debate on important issues

11

Resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Iraqis had divided opinions about their government. 21% said they wanted a democracy, and that it could work. 41% said that democracy was good, but thought it would fail. 20% responded that they did not like democracy, because they did not think it would work, while 5% said democracy was not a good form of government. The opinion that democracy would fail in Iraq had the most responses amongst Shiites, 44%, Sunnis, 38%, and Kurds, 35%.  The government paralysis that has beset Baghdad since the United States returned sovereignty in 2005 is probably the cause of these pessimistic views of the democratic process.

Iraqis’ opinion of democracy


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Want democracy and it to work

21%

23%

12%

23%

Want democracy but won’t work

41%

44%

38%

35%

Don’t want democracy because it won’t work

20%

19%

27%

14%

Don’t want democracy because it is not good type of government

5%

5%

9%

-

None/Not sure

13%

10%

14%

27%

Last, Iraqis were asked about five major political leaders, and not one of them got a favorable response. 37% liked Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and 57% disapproved. 40% had a favorable view of Iyad Allawi, compared to 50% with a negative view. 38% liked Moqtada al-Sadr, and 50% disliked him. At the bottom were Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council with a 26% approval rating, and 64% not approving, and 23% liking President Jalal Talabani, and 69% disliking him. Sadr at 59% and Maliki at 51% got the highest responses from Shiites, Sunnis approved of Allawi by far at 69%, while Talabani, 57%, and Allawi, 49%, got the most favorable opinions from Kurds. The fact that Allawi and Maliki were nearly even reflected the recent voting in the 2010 parliamentary elections when the former’s list, the Iraqi National Movement, just barely nudged out the premier’s State of Law. It also shows that if there were new elections in Iraq, as some politicians have recently called for to solve the on-going government crisis, nothing would be solved since the same ruling parties would probably pull roughly the same number of votes.

Opinion of Iraqi leaders – favorable/unfavorable


Total

Shiite

Sunni

Kurd

Maliki

37%/57%

51%/44%

7%/81%

19%/71%

Allawi

40%/50%

25%/70%

69%/16%

49%/26%

Ammar al-Hakim

26%/64%

39%/55%

5%/87%

11%/58%

Sadr

38%/50%

59%/32%

5%/78%

10%/67%

Talabani

23%/69%

23%/72%

5%/84%

57%/35%

What this new poll shows about Iraqis is that they are deeply divided about their recent past, and future outlook. Only the Kurds felt happy about the 2003 U.S. invasion, and what it brought to the country. Now that the U.S. forces have left, all major groups are apprehensive about what might happen next. Will the country revert to sectarian violence, will the economy collapse, etc.? The fact that they have poor views of the political process and their leaders does not help, because it cannot give the average person confidence that any problems will be solved. At the same time, people seemed to be generally optimistic about the future. The message seemed to be that while the country is facing a number of issues on all fronts, the public thinks that in the end, things will eventually work out, and they will finally be able to fully enjoy the removal of Saddam Hussein.

*With an MA in International Relations, Joel Wing has been researching and writing about Iraq since 2002. His acclaimed blog, Musings on Iraq, is currently listed by the New York Times and the World Politics Review. In addition, Mr. Wing’s work has been cited by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Guardian and the Washington Independent.

RY/AKnews



16 November 2011 Last updated at 13:19 GMT

Iraqi women: Winners or losers in a war-torn society?

By Charlotte Ashton The World Tonight
Dr Lubna Naji Dr Lubna Naji believes every Iraqi has been affected by the war

As the remaining US troops in Iraq prepare to return home, how has life changed for women in the country they are leaving behind?

Junior hospital doctor Lubna Naji is used to dealing with mass casualties. Last week it was a bomb explosion at Baghdad's biggest market.

"The emergency room was a total mess. Distressed people, burns, shell injuries. But I finished duty, ordered some food and soon I was laughing again.

"If we grieved about every single tragedy that happens over here we will spend our entire lives grieving because it's continuous," says the 25-year-old.

The number of people killed in terrorist attacks is significantly lower than at the height of the sectarian civil war here. But the death toll last month was 258 and there are fears of another upsurge after the Americans are gone.

"It's all us ordinary Iraqis versus them, the bad guys, who want to paralyse the country. This conflict has not spared a single Iraqi person," says Lubna.

'Deteriorating rights'

So what are the US troops leaving behind? Lubna and I take a tour of Baghdad to find out.

We start in the staunchly conservative neighbourhood of Sadr City. It is often described as a slum, but most of it is no worse than the rest of Baghdad.

Mariam (R) and her children Mariam feels life has improved, but is worried about the future of women's rights

Mariam, who is 38, has six children and has lived in Sadr City all her life. We find the family watching cartoons on a massive TV screen in the corner of their spacious living room. She says their lives have changed for the better since the US-led invasion.

"We have democracy now, freedom of expression. People can breathe and the economy has improved, so it's good for us."

But Mariam has one big worry. Her 19-year-old daughter got married last year but divorced shortly afterwards.

"My daughter used to be a star in the neighbourhood but now people look down on her. They never blame the man. Only the woman. They say she must have done something wrong."

For most women in Baghdad the democracy the US and her allies delivered has not brought more freedom. In fact, Lubna says women's rights have deteriorated.

"Women used to behave in a more liberal way under Saddam. And I hate to say that, because I hate Saddam so much, but women were freer under Saddam."

Tahrir protests

En route to our next visit we pass Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Protesters gathered here at the start of the Arab Spring in February, but there was a violent clampdown by security forces.

Shatha Adnan

I'm afraid for my country”

End Quote Shatha Adnan

Police and plain-clothed officers easily outnumber the small handful of protesters who still gather every Friday.

The government denies they are worried about the protests. But journalists and demonstrators have been arrested and detained accused of being Baathists, Saddam-era sympathisers.

Our next visit is to Shatha Adnan. At the height of the sectarian violence in 2006 Shatha was nearly killed in a suicide bomb attack.

Her face is covered in deep scars. She still has shrapnel in her knee. The family had to sell their home to pay for all the surgery she needed.

They are victims of political violence, but they do not know who the attacker was, and Shatha's daughter Duaa will not tell us whether her family is Sunni or Shia.

Shatha Adnan said: "We're Iraqis and we're Muslims. We all pray to the same God.

"'Sunni or Shia?' No-one used to ask this question. That's the biggest problem in Iraq today. I'm afraid for my country."

Camp for widows

Our final stop is a camp for widows north of Baghdad.

It is estimated at least 1.5m women have lost their husbands to the violence of the last eight-and-a-half years. About 100 of them live here with their children in rows of trailers arranged around a scruffy yard.

Sitting in a rusty wheelchair, watching his friends play football, is 20-year-old Hassan. It was while playing football that Hassan lost both his legs and one of his arms was badly mangled.

Um Ahmed (L) at home with her daughter and son Um Ahmen (l) lives in a trailer with her six children

Six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded at the football pitch in Diyala province where Hassan used to play. They were buried in the penalty box. Hassan lost his father in a separate attack.

But it is the Iraq government that Hassan gets most angry about.

"If this had happened to someone with relatives in the government they would have sent me out of the country for good treatment.

"They gave me two artificial legs, but they're too heavy, and they hurt so I had to throw them away."

Um Ahmed invites us into her trailer. It is made of metal and sweltering in the summer, freezing in the winter.

She lives there with her six children. Her youngest daughter nearly died of pneumonia last winter.

"Her little feet were like ice," says Um Ahmed. "The family of a martyr deserves better than this."

Um Ahmed's husband was tortured and killed in Basra five years ago.

She flinches as she recalls the gruesome details of his murder. It was the sort of random killing that is almost entirely unheard of in Iraq today.

Despite everything Um Ahmed said she cannot decide whether she is a winner or a loser in the new Iraq. She is Shia and her people now have the lion's share of power in Iraq's coalition government. And that gives her hope.

"I am pleading with [the Iraqi prime minister] Nouri al-Maliki to provide jobs and social security. On the television he talks about providing a bright future for Iraq, but nothing is changing here."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15743078

14 November 2011 Last updated at 17:09 GMT

Iran 'influenced' Iraq over US troops' exit

By Gabriel Gatehouse BBC News, Baghdad
US soldiers stand guard during the distribution of medical aid and supplies to the Imam Ali Hospital in Jibella, south of Baghdad, on 12 November 2011 The US must withdraw all its remaining forces from Iraq by 31 December

Iran influenced Baghdad's decision to refuse to allow the US to keep troops in Iraq beyond the end of this year, a senior adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has told the BBC.

Under the current agreement, the US must withdraw all its remaining forces from Iraq by 31 December.

The admission will fuel speculation about Iran's growing influence in Iraq, as US forces leave.

Iraq's decision was a humiliating moment for the United States.

Washington had lobbied hard, and publicly, for a new agreement that would allow the US to keep a contingent of several thousand soldiers in Iraq.

After months of indecision, in October, the government in Baghdad said no - or at least not under conditions acceptable to the Pentagon.

Some detected the hand of Iran behind the decision.

Adviser Sa'ad Youssef al-Mutalabi says that while the decision had been Iraq's, Iranian sensitivities had played their part.

"It is taking Iran into consideration. We understand that there is a certain sensitivity. And we do not want an excuse for the Iranians to intervene in Iraq on the pretext that you have American troops."

Washington is acutely sensitive to suggestions that it may have fallen short of its strategic aims in the region.

Michael McClellan is the spokesman for the US embassy in Baghdad says: "We are not being pushed out and I don't think it's at the behest of Iran. Since 2003, our objective here has been to have an Iraq that is sovereign, stable and self-reliant.

"They are sovereign because they did make their own decision. We did not just come back at them and say: 'Sorry but we're going to keep our troops here anyway.'"

There are still some 30,000 US soldiers in Iraq. A little over six weeks from now, they must all be gone, except for a few to guard the embassy and other official buildings.

It will mark the end of a war that has cost the America close to $1tn (£630bn) and nearly 4,500 soldiers' lives.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15724404


Iraq less safe than a year ago: US watchdog

Casket of Muhsin Ali, 22, killed in a double car bomb attack in Najaf, June 2011 Nearly a dozen civilians die violent deaths in Iraq every day

A top US adviser on Iraq has accused the US military of glossing over an upsurge in violence, just months before its troops are due to be withdrawn.

Iraq is more dangerous now than a year ago, said a report issued by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W Bowen Junior.

He said the killing of US soldiers and senior Iraqi figures, had risen, along with attacks in Baghdad .

The report contradicts usually upbeat assessments from the US military.

It comes as Washington is preparing to withdraw its remaining 47,000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year, despite fears that the Iraqi security forces might not be ready to take over fully.

Assassinations

"Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work," Mr Bowen concluded in his quarterly report to Congress. "It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago."

The report cited the deaths of 15 US soldiers in June - the bloodiest month for the American military in two years - but also said more Iraqi officials had been assassinated in the past few months than in any other recent period.

While the efforts of Iraqi and American forces may have reduced the threat from the Sunni-based insurgency, Shia militias are believed to have become more active, it said.

An Iraqi soldier at the site of a bomb attack in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, 21 June Responsibility for training Iraqi forces will fall to the US State Department after the pullout

They are being blamed for the deaths of American soldiers, and for an increase in rocket attacks on the Baghdad international zone and the US embassy compound.

Additionally, the report called the north-eastern province of Diyala, which borders Iran, "very unstable" with frequent bombings that bring double-digit death tolls.

Mr Bowen accused the US military of glossing over the instability, noting an army statement in late May that described Iraq's security trends as "very, very positive" - but only when compared to 2007, when the country was on the brink of civil war.

A spokesman for the US army in Iraq declined to respond.

Stay or go?

The findings come in the middle of what the inspector called a "summer of uncertainty" in Baghdad over whether American forces will stay past a year-end withdrawal deadline and continue military aid for the unstable nation.

Although the US is preparing to withdraw all its remaining troops by the end of the year, in line with mutual agreements, the Obama administration has offered to leave 10,000 to help train the Iraqi forces.

That is politically highly controversial in Baghdad, where Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-dominated government, dependent on support from strongly anti-American elements, has not been able to produce a clear answer, says the BBC's Jim Muir from Beirut.

The situation is clearly very much better than it was at the height of the violence in 2006-7, our correspondent says.

In fact, the overall figures for Iraqi civilian deaths in the first six months of this year, collated by Iraqi Body Count, show a very slight improvement over last year.

But patterns of violence have changed, he adds. There are fewer big bomb explosions, but more targeted killings of Iraqi officials or security forces.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14352166


Iraqi hopes and fears for government

Iraqis, speaking to the BBC Arabic Service, react to the agreement on forming a new government and describe their hopes and fears for their country.

Namek Marouf, retired engineer 

Namek Marouf

Yes, there will be stability, why not! All the foundations of stability are there”

I see a glimmer of hope in the recent results. In this government there are good elements that are calling for a change.

Most of the MPs have high experience in policy-making and governance in comparison to the previous parliament. The previous government did not have the political maturity required to reach a political solution to the Iraqi crisis. I think that if the new government insisted on change and reform and insisted on the points promised in their platforms we will see noticeable change in the situation in Iraq.

Yes, there will be stability, why not! All the foundations of stability are there; you have a functioning police force and an established army. All that is left is a government with a progressive vision, which is the case now. Looking at previous governments, none was able to give any assurances to the Iraqi people. However this government has the intention to change and I personally believe this is the first step in the right direction.

Most of the MPs have high experience in policy-making and governance in comparison to the previous parliament. The previous government did not have the political maturity required to reach a political solution to the Iraqi crisis. I think that if the new government insisted on change and reform and insisted on the points promised in their platforms we will see noticeable change in the situation in Iraq.

Yes, there will be stability, why not! All the foundations of stability are there; you have a functioning police force and an established army. All that is left is a government with a progressive vision, which is the case now. Looking at previous governments, none was able to give any assurances to the Iraqi people. However this government has the intention to change and I personally believe this is the first step in the right direction.

Corruption unfortunately it exists at all levels and government departments. This is an old problem facing Iraq, but with the help of the Iraqi people, I can see a bright future for Iraq.

Hamza Mustafa, political analyst

Hamza Mustafa

I don't think we'll be seeing significant changes in Iraq in the near future. The blocs and parties that have won represent factions of the society on a sectarian and tribal basis rather than political ideology or agenda.

The agreement on the government has delivered the same faces that have been in power for years.

Political programmes that were announced as part of wide political reforms ended up being nothing but ineffective phrases and symbols. It is hard to see how we are going to see progress in the provision of services, investment and security and political stability.

The only positive thing is that this government is a government of partnership and not a political majority one; it includes most of the components of the political, ethnic, and sectarian groups.

Everything depends on the intentions of the politicians and the nature of the political agenda and the agreements concluded between the parties and political blocs. It is important to say the government has agreed unanimously on the need for reconstruction and investment, and if it concentrates on that that you will see positive things.

But still, the security establishment and the Iraqi military are incapable of dealing with the armed groups that have taken advantage of the chaos in our country.But still, the security establishment and the Iraqi military are incapable of dealing with the armed groups that have taken advantage of the chaos in our country”

The agreement on the government has delivered the same faces that have been in power for years.

Political programmes that were announced as part of wide political reforms ended up being nothing but ineffective phrases and symbols. It is hard to see how we are going to see progress in the provision of services, investment and security and political stability.

The only positive thing is that this government is a government of partnership and not a political majority one; it includes most of the components of the political, ethnic, and sectarian groups.

Everything depends on the intentions of the politicians and the nature of the political agenda and the agreements concluded between the parties and political blocs. It is important to say the government has agreed unanimously on the need for reconstruction and investment, and if it concentrates on that that you will see positive things.

But still, the security establishment and the Iraqi military are incapable of dealing with the armed groups that have taken advantage of the chaos in our country.

Saleem, doctor

"If MPs don't understand the suffering of the nation, no change will take place”

The performance of the government depends on the performance of its members. There are some who will work to satisfy certain factions within the society depending on their sectarian loyalties, and tribal affiliations. Unfortunately, you cannot satisfy all the people; and whoever is not included in the government will attempt to disrupt its work and the average citizen is always the victim. Usually the opposition criticises current governments until they themselves are the ruling.

It is very likely that this government will become a corrupt one; one that creates militias that kill and destroy any hope for Iraq.

The existence of an effective government is impossible; these politicians are the same since the fall of the former regime, all of whom work for themselves or their group. Many people left their homes and became displaced, which previous governments did nothing about. In terms of security and stability the next generation will suffer even more.

Whatever the name of the government or the nature of its participants it will not succeed because of external agendas; the region as a whole does not want Iraq to become stable - how can the Iraqis themselves prevent this from happening!

On a different note, half of the budget goes to Iraq's army and police, nonetheless security is still very precarious and will not change whether in this government or the near future. We keep on hearing about contractual agreements aiming at solving the electricity problem, but without any results, all due to lack of transparency. If MPs don't understand the suffering of the nation, no change will take place.

Dr Zuhair al-Jazaeri, author

This is a big disappointment to the voters who participated with great enthusiasm to cast their ballots. People clearly doubt that the next government can change and reform. People have lost hope or confidence in any government and its ability to practise democracy.

I personally believe this government in its present form is a crisis government and not one of stability or national partnership, and therefore I do not think it is able to continue effectively.

The presence of a hung parliament is in itself an indication that any future government will face problems in implementing decisions and policies. Instead of utilising the parliament to help people, it has become a tool for politicians and parties to fulfil their agenda at the expense of the citizens.

I expect that there will be no substantial difference in the bigger picture. Most of the political activity will take place outside the parliament through political bloc meetings. There seems to be some kind of agreement on the sharing of ministerial seats, but the question remains to what extent this agreement will meet the aspirations of the parties.

The distribution of security responsibilities is a reasonable solution to allow different parties to participate in governance, but this issue will be politically difficult.

So far, the parliament has been unable to provide any services or stability. The new government might be able to control the levels of violence, but if you want to solve the problem completely, you need some kind of exchange of power between the politicians and other groups represented in government.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11740780


An international report: negative indicators rise in Iraq

Posted: October 9, 2011 by THE CURRENCY NEWSHOUND

According to a report issued by an international days’ Gallup ‘research and statistical outstanding and carry a title key’ negative economic deployed in Iraq, ‘and another secondary’ in the midst of war and violence Aldaúran must face the people of this country’s economy is also dire. “

That ‘the level of dissatisfaction with economic conditions of Iraqis in their country rose to the highest degree than it was over three years, highlights the challenges faced by the government at a time when the United States intends to withdraw its troops. “

The report shows’ jumped the percentage of Iraqis who say the country’s economy is getting worse year by 20% in early 2010 to 37% in 2011. Also increased the level of discontent towards the economic conditions of Iraqis in cities and regions in which they live. He says Thirty percent of Iraqis now that the local economies are getting worse, which is twice the percentage who said so in the early 2010 ‘.

According to the UN report ‘says nearly two-thirds of Iraqis that is a bad time to find a job in the city or region where they live, up from a ratio of 41% in early 2010. Says while sixteen percent of Iraqis – which is less than half the level at the same time almost one year ago that the time is now appropriate to find a job at the local level ‘.

Suggest the results of a poll conducted by the ‘Gallop’ to ‘the devastation inflicted on eight years of the war on Iraq and on the psyche of his people. In a poll conducted by Gallup in 2004 – after nearly a year of forces from the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein – said nearly half of Iraqis (46%) said they believe that the invasion of coalition forces had inflicted damage more beneficial, with a much smaller percentage (33%) says that he has the benefit of more damage. With the destruction of important parts of the country’s infrastructure and the livelihood of a large proportion of Iraq’s citizens thirty million in poverty, it seems that these fears were confirmed early. “

According to the United Nations, ‘is now fifty-three percent of Iraqi by the urban poor conditions compared to a ratio of 17% in 2000 before the start of the Iraq war. The rate jumped Iraqis who say that he did not have enough money in some cases to pay for shelter from 21% in late 2010 to 36% ‘.

Now says more than half of Iraqis said they were dissatisfied with their standard of living, and more Iraqis see that their standard of living is getting worse as being improved – This is the first time that it is the case since the start of the Gallup question was asked three years ago.

As a sign of the rising resentment of other Iraqis from economic conditions, the proportion of the population who say it was “difficult” or “very difficult” fend for living based on current income, from 39% in early 2010 to 65%.

Depth of pessimism comes at a time when Iraqis a change in everything around them. First of all, there is a planned withdrawal of U.S. forces, which may complicate efforts to reconstruction and foreign investment insurance schemes in the case of the return of rampant sectarian violence after the departure of the army. There are also protests and impending revolutions elsewhere in the Arab world, which may cause some Iraqis to re-do their calculations on the extent of their sense of control over the course of their lives. The Gallup routinely asking Iraqis if they feel good about the level of their freedom to choose what they are doing in their lives. In 2011, says 25% of Iraqis feel they are satisfied, the lowest recorded so far, down from 40% in late 2010.

 

http://bit.ly/o1k5fB


Opinions

How the U.S. and the world can help Iraq

By Ayad Allawi, Published: September 1

As the Arab Spring drives change across our region, bringing the hope of democracy and reform to millions of Arabs, less attention is being paid to the plight of Iraq and its people. We were the first to transition from dictatorship to democracy, but the outcome in Iraq remains uncertain. Our transition could be a positive agent for progress, and against the forces of extremism, or a dangerous precedent that bodes ill for the region and the international community.

Debate rages in Baghdad and Washington around conditions for a U.S. troop extension beyond the end of this year. While such an extension may be necessary, that alone will not address the fundamental problems festering in Iraq. Those issues present a growing risk to Middle East stability and the world community. The original U.S. troop “surge” was meant to create the atmosphere for national political reconciliation and the rebuilding of Iraq’s institutions and infrastructure. But those have yet to happen.

More than eight years after Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, basic services are in a woeful state: Most of the country has only a few hours of electricity a day. Blackouts were increasingly common this summer. Oil exports, still Iraq’s only source of income, are barely more than they were when Hussein was toppled. The government has squandered the boon of high oil prices and failed to create real and sustainable job growth. Iraq’s economy has become an ever more dysfunctional mix of cronyism and mismanagement, with high unemployment and endemic corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq the world’s fourth-most-corrupt country and by far the worst in the Middle East.

The promise of improved security has been empty, with sectarianism on the rise. The Pentagon recently reported an alarming rise in attacks, which it blamed on Iranian-backed militias. The latest report to Congress by the U.S. special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction notes that June was the bloodiest month for U.S. troops since 2008 and concludes that Iraq is more dangerous than it was a year ago. Regrettably, Iraq’s nascent security forces are riddled with sectarianism and mixed loyalties; they are barely capable of defending themselves, let alone the rest of the country.

Despite failing to win the most seats in last year’s elections, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki clung to power through a combination of Iranian support and U.S. compliance. He now shows an alarming disregard for democratic principles and the rule of law. Vital independent institutions such as the election commission, the transparency commission and Iraq’s central bank have been ordered to report directly to the office of the prime minister. Meanwhile, Maliki refuses to appoint consensus candidates as defense and interior ministers, as per last year’s power-sharing agreement.

The government is using blatant dictatorial tactics and intimidation to quell opposition, ignoring the most basic human rights. Human Rights Watch reported in February on secret torture prisons under Maliki’s authority. In June, it exposed the government’s use of hired thugs to beat, stab and even sexually assault peaceful demonstrators in Baghdad who were complaining about corruption and poor services. These horrors are reminiscent of autocratic responses to demonstrations by failing regimes elsewhere in the region, and a far cry from the freedom and democracy promised in the new Iraq.

Is this really what the United States sacrificed more than 4,000 young men and women, and hundreds of billions of dollars, to build?

The trend of failure is becoming irreversible. Simply put, Iraq’s failure would render every U.S. and international policy objective in the Middle East difficult to achieve, if not impossible. From combating terrorism to nuclear containment to energy security to the Middle East peace process, Iraq is at the center. Our country is rapidly becoming a counterweight to all positive efforts to address these issues, instead of the regional role model for democracy, pluralism and a successful economy that it was supposed to be.

It is not too late to reverse course. But the time to act is now. Extending the U.S. troop presence will achieve nothing on its own. More concerted political engagement is required at the highest levels to guarantee the promise of freedom and progress made to the Iraqi people, who have suffered and sacrificed so much and are running out of patience.

It is necessary, and achievable, to insist on full and proper implementation of the power-sharing agreement of 2010, with proper checks and balances to prevent abuse of power, and full formation of the government and its institutions on a nonsectarian basis. Malign regional influences must be counterbalanced. Failing these steps, new elections free from foreign meddling, and with a truly independent judiciary and election commission, may be the only way to rescue Iraq from the abyss. This solution is increasingly called for by Iraqi journalists and political leaders and on the street.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 may indeed have been a war of choice. But losing Iraq in 2011 is a choice that the United States and the rest of the world cannot afford to make.

Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister of Iraq, leads the largest political bloc in Iraq’s Parliament.



Features & Analysis

Iraq thinks its politicians and parties are failing them according to new opinion poll

18/07/2011 11:09

By Joel Wing*

In early June 2011, the Greenberg Quinland Rosner Research company in conjunction with the National Democratic Institute released their latest public opinion poll of Iraqis. The survey was conducted from February to March, and consisted of 2,400 in-person interviews of people 18 years or older. 1,436 of them were weighted to reflect the populations of each region. They were asked eleven questions total, and there was +/- 2.0% margin of error. This poll was a follow up to a much larger one held in November 2010. The new survey showed that Iraqis are losing confidence in the direction the country is going in and in their leaders. Iraq parliament, Parlamani Iraq

The first question asked was whether the participants felt that Iraq was going in the right or wrong direction. 49% said that Iraq was heading in the wrong direction, while 42% said that it was doing fine. That was a slight reversal from November when 45% thought the country was going in the right direction, and 44% thought it was going the wrong way. That change was due to a reversal in mood in southern Iraq. There, 37% said that Iraq was on the right track, and 52% said the opposite. In November, 57% said it was going in the right direction. Baghdad and northern Iraq had the most positive views with 54% and 66% respectively stating that the nation was doing good. Western Iraq was the opposite with 67% saying that things were going wrong. Not only that, but those that felt strongly that Iraq was on the wrong track in that part of the country went from 17% in November to 43% in March. The situation in the country has slightly changed from the last poll. Attacks have inched up, and the political parties are still deadlocked over forming the government. Those could be the reasons why respondents turned slightly more pessimistic in the latest survey.

When broken down by ethnosectarian identity, Sunnis had overwhelmingly negative views about the country, 71% saying that Iraq was doing badly, while Kurds were the most positive, 67% said the nation was on the right track. Turkmen were like Sunnis with 53% telling surveyors that Iraq was going down the wrong path. Shiites were almost evenly divided with 43% telling the company that Iraq was doing fine, and 48% saying the opposite. The poll showed that Sunnis still felt the most marginalized in the country. The Kurds are relatively safe and prosperous by Iraqi standards in their own region, which is why they had positive views. Finally, the Shiites were split, because despite being the majority, many of them live in the poorest parts of the country.

Young people and the poor were the most pessimistic, while the elderly and wealthy were evenly split. 49% of young women said that Iraq was on the wrong track, and 54% of young men stated the same thing. That compared to 43% of older women and 45% of older men who had positive views. In the survey, people under 35 were designated as young. In terms of class, 60% of the poor, and 52% of the middle class claimed that the country was on the wrong path. 46% of the rich said Iraq was doing fine. The young probably have higher aspirations of the new Iraq, and the poor are obviously suffering, which is why those two appear to be disappointed.


The next question was what issue had improved the most. Security and education were at the top, while corruption and the electrical supply were at the bottom. 62% felt that security was better, up 4% from November. 61% also thought education was improving. Conversely, only 38% said that the power was doing better, and 32% said that of corruption. Elements of the economy were seen to be positive, with 52% saying jobs and 50% stating the cost of living had gotten better. When asked about the economy specifically, 56% thought it was weak, however 38% believed their personal finances were strong. Attacks continue in Iraq, but the civil war is over. Violence has become more impersonal for many Iraqis, and they are able to go out more, which is why the improvement in security is perceived to be the greatest achievement. More and more children are also attending schools. Despite having an oil dependent economy during a period when the industry is booming, little of this wealth is seen to have trickled down however. That’s probably why the economy was at the bottom in the survey. Corruption is also endemic, and is reported on almost every day in the media, yet there is no perceived change in the situation.

As a follow up question, participants were asked what two issues were the most important for the government to address. Jobs were number one at 63%, followed by services at 47%. Security was the third most important in November at 36%, but it dropped 20% to fourth by March. Education, 8%, sectarianism, 6%, and housing 1% were considered the least pressing. In western Iraq, 73%, and southern Iraq, 65%, jobs were the most important, while services were even more important to the south at 76%. Iraq suffers from high unemployment and even higher underemployment, and services like electricity have never met demand. With security greatly improved, these quality of life issues have now come to the fore in the public’s mind.

Iraqis from all regions felt that democracy was the best form of government for the country, but were a little divided over whether it really was one or not. 71% said that democracy would make life better, and only 16% thought it would make it worse. Baghdad, 58%, western Iraq, 67%, northern Iraq, 76%, and southern Iraq, 80%, all felt the same. On whether Iraq was a real democracy, the responses were much closer with 42% saying yes, and 39% saying no. Baghdad, 40%, and western Iraq, 51%, said no, while northern Iraq, 45%, and southern Iraq, 56%, said yes. After living for decades under a dictatorship, it’s no surprise that people have a positive view of democracy. Whether it’s working appears to be much more mixed with the country almost evenly split on the matter.


One problem with Iraq’s democracy is its political parties, not one of which had a 50% approval rating. 43% had a warm or favorable opinion of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National List, 37% said that about the Sadr Trend, 32% felt that way about Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front, followed by 31% for the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), 30% for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, 26% for the Iraqi Islamic Party, 14% for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi’s Renewal List, 14% for President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and 13% for the Fadhila Party and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party. All the Arab parties, except for Dawa, improved their standing from November 2010, while the Kurdish parties both went down. Only Allawi’s Iraqi National List had a more favorable rating, 43%, than negative, 40%. The Dawa for example had a 30% favorable opinion, and 52% unfavorable, and two-thirds had bad views of the Kurdish parties.

Those feelings carried over to people’s views of individual politicians. Iyad Allawi, 48%, and Moqtada al-Sadr, 45% finished at the top of the poll, and were the only two with more favorable than unfavorable responses. They were followed by Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi, 39%, Premier Maliki, 35%, SIIC head Ammar al-Hakim, 35%, Vice President Hashemi, 33%, head of the National Coalition Ibrahim al-Jaafari, 30%, Deputy Premier Mutlaq, 29%, President Talabani, 17%, and Kurdish President Barzani, 16%. All of those had more negative than positive opinions. One base of support for Sadr and Allawi appeared to be the lower-middle class and poor, 52% of which had a favorable opinion of Sadr, and 45% had one of Allawi. After that, all the other politicians had a more unfavorable view than positive. The same thing was expressed amongst young men with 54% supporting Sadr and 48% supporting Allawi. In comparison, 44% of the lower class and 48% of young men had an unfavorable opinion of Maliki. Also, while Kurdish leaders Talabani and Barzani were seen negatively in the country in general, they still held strong support in Kurdistan with 66% having a good view of Talabani and 62% saying that about Barzani. This was despite large protests that occurred in Sulaymaniya that started in February against the Kurdish regional government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was right in the middle of the pack. The poll showed that he had his strongest support in Baghdad and the South, but that his numbers were slipping in the latter. Overall, 35% said they felt positive about Maliki, while 45% were cool to him. In Baghdad the premier had a 50% approval rating, and 42% in the south, although that dropped 23% from November. In Western Iraq only 15% had a favorable view of him, and in the North 30% did, but that was a 17% increase from the last survey. When asked directly about his performance 39% said they approved, and 54% said the opposite. Again, 52% in Baghdad and 47% in the south said they thought Maliki was doing well, while in the West, 24%, and north, 27%, that opinion was not shared. Oddly enough the prime minister’s approval rating went up 22% in the South, which contradicted the first question about him personally. Maliki has strenuously held onto power, and outmaneuvered his main rival Iyad Allawi after the 2010 elections. He has not improved the government’s performance however, which could account for the negative views people have of him. The opposing views of Maliki himself on the one hand, and his job on the other in the south is an oddity.

On the local level the provincial councils were seen negatively, while there was still strong support for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). When asked about the job performance of the councils, 34% approved, down 13% from November, while 62% disapproved, up 15%. Western Iraq had the most favorable opinion with 40% approving, and 59% disapproving. Baghdad was in the middle with 38% approving, and 58% disapproving, while the South had the lowest rating at 27% approving and 67% disapproving. In Kurdistan 69% approved and 30% disapproved. That was down from November when the KRG had an 85% favorability rating. The south is the poorest part of the country. The provincial councils have been in power since 2009, but have not been able to improve services or the quality of life, which accounts for their poor showing in the poll. Western Iraq also has its problems, but perhaps the closer connection between the tribes and political parties there has kept some of the discontent in check. Baghdad contains all of the contradictions in the country with some of the poorest and richest districts of the country. It also has the most daily attacks and casualties, and a huge internally displaced population. Kurdistan on the other hand, is the most stable part of the nation, and the ruling parties have a vast array of tribal ties and a large patronage system to maintain support.


The main thing to take away from this new poll is that Iraqis felt that their country was heading in the wrong direction. Sunnis, the poor, and the young were the most pessimistic about the future. Based upon the questions asked, Iraq’s political class was the main culprit behind the negative views. All of the major parties and leaders, with the exception of Allawi and Sadr, were seen badly. Politicians are increasingly thought to be more involved with their own personal squabbles than running the country. In the sixteen months since parliamentary elections, very little has been accomplished as Maliki and Allawi are still arguing over finishing off the cabinet. The provincial councils have been in power even longer, and people’s opinions of them are just as negative with the exception of the Kurdish region. The question is the next time a survey is conducted, will the negative views increase even more or will they remain relatively stable? If the numbers continue to decline it will show that the public has lost even more faith in the government to improve its lot. The sad thing is that the elite do not show any concern for this. In Iraq, the parties insist upon national unity governments where everyone gets a seat at the table instead of being punished for their poor performance.

*With an MA in International Relations, Joel Wing has been researching and writing about Iraq since 2002. His acclaimed blog, Musings on Iraq, is currently listed by the New York Times and the World Politics Review. In addition, Mr. Wing’s work has been cited by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Guardian and the Washington Independent.

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